We Have Nearly Killed All The Dudes

Congratulations are in order, everyone! The latest numbers have come in and I'm happy to announce that the collective video game playing audience is doing a tremendous job.

We have killed nearly 300 billion dudes. That's more than 86% of the project amount of dudes we need to kill before this is all over.

Our total XP count is in the quintillions. We're probably reaching the cap, but until the number freezes at a bunch of 9s we won't really be able to know for sure.

Almost all of the dollars, gold pieces, zeny, bottlecaps, and gil have been collected. Barring the resurgence of a lesser currency such as Simoleons, we're right on track.

It's our hope that these numbers will hold, if not improve as the next generation of consoles draws near. With any luck will kill all the men, gain all the XP, and have all the money by 2021. After that we can finally call it quits.

Multiple Sentence Review: Shadowrun Returns

For a game that couldn't look any more traditional if it tried, Shadowrun Returns sure does seem to enjoy defying expectations.

It's a rich story-driven isometric RPG with turn-based combat like the original Fallout or Arcanum... and the main campaign clocks in at around twelve hours. Every corner of the world is fully realized and lovingly crafted with an eye for detail... but the levels themselves are relatively short and arranged in a linear order.

These decisions mostly work in the game's favor, keeping the campaign focused and allowing the story to unfold at a deliberate pace. Oh, and that story? It's cyberpunk as fuck.

By that, I don't just mean that there are samurai hackers, or a glowy virtual reality matrix, or rainy streets where you can't throw a processor without hitting a neon sign with Japanese letters, or ogre gang members with purple mohawks, or corporations with private armies, or cyber shaman. Of course, all those things are here. But that's just the surface. Shadowrun Returns goes beyond collecting all of the right elements and putting them on the screen. It makes all of this ridiculous stuff matter.

If Chris Avellone's RPG writing can be equated to literary fiction, Shadowrun Returns is exceptional genre fiction. The parts in place are familiar, but cleverly executed and wholly engrossing. You're constantly chatting with colorful characters who surprise you in all sorts of ways, from unexpected demonstrations of thoughtfulness to backstabs with a drone-mounted shotgun instead of a knife. Text descriptions communicate a lot with very few words and prompt your imagination to fill in the gaps.

This creativity injects the mission structure with a bit of unpredictability. One particularly memorable sequence has you sneak back to the scene of a protracted battle. No longer focused on blasting everything in sight, your interactions with the characters and environment shed a new light on the setting while the fear of getting caught provides an undercurrent of tension.

This is a game that never ceases to sell you on its world. With the possible exception of one sequence that's a little too video-gamey in nature, the campaign is engaging from its pitch-perfect start to a surprising denouement.

Shadowrun Returns isn't the safe rehash of an all-but abandoned genre that you might have expected. This is a game with a clear identity, earning its highs and lows. Even if some of the design choices don't sit well with everyone, it's a welcome reminder that turn-based RPGs have just as much potential today as they did fifteen years ago.

Shadowrun Returns
As they say in the Shadowrun universe, "Oi! Matrix up, ya null git!" 8/10

I would provide a review of this exceptionally bland game, but then I'd have to think about it, and every time I try to think about it I fall asle- 3/10

Rise Of The Triad
Why on earth is there anything beyond Dog Mode? 6/10

– Dennis "Corin Tucker's Stalker" Farrell (@DennisFarrell)

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